Alaska Briefs

Posted: Sunday, August 10, 2003

Athabascan leader Peter John dies

FAIRBANKS - Chief Peter John, the traditional chief of Athabascan Indians, died Friday in his log home in Minto.

John, 102, was surrounded by family and village elders when he died.

"He'll be greatly missed by everybody," said Andy Jimmie, chief of Minto. "It was an honor to live in the village with him."

John was born Oct. 15, 1900. His mother died when he was 2 and he saw his first white man when he was 10 years old. His formal education ended in elementary school.

John never stepped foot outside of Alaska and lived most of his life in Minto, a community of about 230 people 130 miles northwest of Fairbanks.

He testified for Alaska Native land claims during the late 1960s and advocated sobriety for Alaska Native people.

He was elected by Athabascan elders in 1992 to be their traditional chief. The position is a teaching role, not a political one.

He taught tradition and sought to remind people what it meant to be Athabascan. He wrote a book, "The Gospel According to Peter John."

The self-taught John was awarded an honorary doctorate from the University of Alaska Fairbanks in 1994. His wife, Elsie John, died in 1995.

Gov. Frank Murkowski on Saturday ordered that the Alaska flag be flown at half staff from Monday morning through Friday afternoon in John's honor.

Ship's passengers, crew suffer stomach illness

SEATTLE - The Star Princess, a cruise ship sailing between Seattle and Alaska that had an outbreak of stomach illness among its passengers and crew this week, docked here Saturday.

A total of 112 passengers and 14 crew members vomited and had diarrhea from the common Norovirus during the ship's seven-day cruise, Princess Cruises spokesman Tom Dow said Saturday.

Gastrointestinal ailments like Norovirus, a Norwalk-like virus, are not generally reported to public health agencies. But cruise ships are required to report health problems.

None of the 126 people affected, out of the 2,800 passengers and 1,110 crew, was hospitalized.

Dow said the Star Princess was looked at by sanitation inspectors in Victoria, British Columbia, on Friday and given "a score of 100." He said no inspections were scheduled in Seattle.

Dave Forney, chief of the vessel sanitation program for the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, said there was no indication the virus was caused by the vessel's food and water. He said the illness usually is brought on board by a passenger and spreads easily in close quarters.

The Star Princess is operated by Princess Cruises, based in Santa Clarita, Calif.

Unalaska seafood landings top record

UNALASKA - Unalaska has set a new national record for seafood landings, according to city natural resources analyst Frank Kelty.

The port took in 908 million pounds of seafood in 2002, Kelty said. That breaks the old record set in Los Angeles in 1960 of 846 million pounds.

Kelty said the old record was set mostly with tuna. Unalaska's record was established mostly with pollock and other groundfish.

The Aleutian Islands port has led the nation in total pounds of seafood landed for the past 13 years.

Unalaska is a city of more than 4,000 that overlooks Iliuliuk Bay and Dutch Harbor on Unalaska Island about 800 air miles southwest of Anchorage.

Rescuers find overdue hiker near Homer

HOMER - A Polish national who was reported overdue from a hiking trip near Homer has been found safe.

At about 7 p.m. Friday, National Park Service officials located Lukasz Langowski on the Halibut Cove Beach at the Saddle Trailhead.

Langowski, 29, was late coming out because he had injured his knee, but was in good health and refused medical treatment. He was transported to the Homer Harbor by an Alaska State Troopers' boat and then to his residence by troopers from Homer.

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